Ireland's aerospace sector may be dominated by MRO and finance, but there is a significant manufacturing element, typified by small and medium enterprises such as Devtec, based in a 1,000m2 (3,300ft2) unit near Dublin airport. Founded as part of a diversification strategy by Aer Lingus in 1982 to provide engineering design services to industry, the company, which employs 22 engineers, has built a niche in the space sector, designing supports for the Ariane 5's Vulcain 1 and 2 engines.

A subsidiary of New Jersey-based Marotta Scientific Controls since 2002, its customers also include Alcatel, Astrium and Avio. It has a sister company, Polyflex Space, in Cheltenham, UK, which employs eight people and specialises in making pneumatic valves for satellites. Being a subsidiary of a large US firm, but operating independently in Ireland and the UK, gives Devtec the best of both worlds, says sales and marketing manager Gerard Fenner, with access to the US market and protection from export licensing restrictions. "European space customers want European suppliers. They don't want to be dependent on US products," he says.

The downturn in the launcher and telecoms market has been bad for Devtec, but Fenner believes prospects for the sector are looking up and the company says it can grow its combined Irish and UK sales from €4.5 million ($5.6 million) to €10 million within five years. "The European space programme keeps going despite all the setbacks and they are determined to get Ariane 5 back on the straight and narrow," he says. "We think we are at the bottom of the valley."


Source: Flight International